New Species of Cockroach Named After Pokémon Character

Move over Pheromosa, there’s a new sheriff in town. A new cockroach species has been discovered in a forested nature reserve in Singapore and experts decided to name the insect after a Pokémon character.

A cockroach-like Pokémon was named after Pheromosa, a character that appears in the seventh generation of the video game series. The species was discovered by comparing differences between the male genitalia of specimens with its closest relative from Borneo, among other checks.

“There are some similarities between Pheromosa and the delicate cockroach that we found, such as having a long antenna, wings that mimic a hood and long slender legs. Both my collaborator and I are Pokemon fans, so we thought, why not name it after a Pokemon inspired by a cockroach,” Entomologist Foo Maosheng said.

The discovery of Nocticola pheromosa, published in the Journal of Asia-Pacific Entomology marks the first time a cockroach from the genus has been found in the area.

The cockroach’s real identity was a mystery when a handful of male specimens were collected between 2016 and 2017 in a secondary forest in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve during an insect survey. “There were no formal records of the cockroach in Singapore,” Maosheng said. “Since its DNA did not match any species recorded online, it does add to the suggestion that this species had not been formally documented.”

The new species becomes part of the 22 others from its genus, which have been mostly found in tropical Africa, India, Australia, mainland Asia and Southeast Asia. Unlike American cockroaches, this species is much more delicate and tend to live in well-protected ecosystems.

Maosheng’s love for insects and Pokémon has garnered him the name “bug catcher” given to him by his students at NUS and other entomologists. “I’m like one of those bug-type trainers (in Pokémon) as I go to different places to find out more about what insects we have.

“This contributes to the museum for research and education and The Biodiversity of Singapore website, which is kind of like our local Pokedex,” Maosheng said.